|ASUS GeForce GT 430 Overclocking Performance|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Hank Tolman|
|Thursday, 28 October 2010|
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GeForce GT 430 Overclocking
NVIDIA's recent GF104 and GF106 graphics processors proved themselves capable of serious overclocking, so it's obvious that we'd expect great things out of the GF108 as well. Of course, the GT430 series cards come with a distinct disadvantage in the area of cooling, so I didn't expect quite as much head room as we have seen from the other GPUs. Even so, the ENGT430 proved to be quite impressive when overclocked. The ASUS ENGT430 comes stock with a clock speed of 700/1400MHz. Not bad at all considering the GTX 460 is at 675/1350. The GT430 does run a little slower than the GTS 450 at 783/1566, however. The other difference is in the memory. The GT430 doesn't have the Samsung DDR5 memory that the other Fermi GPUs sport. The DDR3 chips on the ENGT430 do come clocked at 800MHz, though. This is somewhat slower than the memory speeds of the other Fermi GPUs. NVIDIA says that the memory for the GT 430 can be 900MHz DDR3, so some other manufacturers might include faster memory.
My goal with overclocking the ASUS ENGT430 was to push both the core clock and the memory clock to the fastest speeds possible without raising the voltage at all. Since the ENGT430 doesn't have an input from the PSU, raising the voltage wasn't much of a possibility anyway. Besides, the fan and heatsink combo on the ENGT430 aren't conducive to pushing more voltage.
Software Overclocking Tools
Our Executive Editor here at Benchmark Reviews released an article a few years back with detailed information on hwo to overclock your video card. Since then, a lot has changed. Software overclocking tools have become readily available with many video card manufacturers offering their own solutions. EVGA Precision, MSI Afterburner, and ASUS SmartDoctor are a few, and NVIDIA even offers their own solution through their System Tools suite. All of these programs are very similar and are extremely easy to use, just be careful not to overdo it.
NVIDIA System Tools
I started off the overclocking of the ASUS ENGT430 by using NVIDIA System Tools. While very easy to use, the suite didn't allow me to adjust the core clock speed of the video card at all. I was able to increase the memory speed up to 960 MHz. While that is nice, it's not what I am looking for. So I moved on to ASUS's tool, SmartDoctor. The ASUS SmartDoctor interface is very easy to use as well. When it comes up, it does a quick scan of your GPU, though I'm not entirely sure what it's checking for. Overclocking your video card with SmartDoctor is as easy as dragging the bars. The GPU core and shader clocks are locked and move together. With the ASUS ENGT430, the SmartDoctor utility only allowed me increase the GPU core clock speed at 100 MHz intervals. A 200 MHz increase is a bit of a stretch, and I didn't want to jump that far so soon. I overclocked the ENGT430 to 800/1600 MHz and it was solid as a rock. But the SmartDoctor utility left me wondering if there was more left in the ENGT430.
ASUS SmartDoctor Utility
So I decided to try the EVGA Precision software out on the ASUS ENGT430. Turns out, while I was limited to a max overclock of 950 MHz, I was able to actually type in the clock speed that I wanted. Since there is no way the ENGT430 was going to get to 950 MHz, it doesn't really matter that that was the limit. Since I knew the ENGT430 was solid at 800 MHz, I increased the clock speed incrementally from there by 10 MHz at a time. At each interval, I would run FurMark for 12 hours at max load to make sure the ENGT430 could handle it. At 870 MHz, the ENGT430 failed after an hour or so. I then clocked the ENGT430 back to 860 MHz, stressed it again, then started running the benchmarks. After getting through all of the DX10 benchmarks, I loaded up Unigine Heaven DX11 and started the benchmark. About halfway through the DX11 benchmark, my system froze for a few minutes. Then the Heaven benchmark quit out to the desktop and gave me an error about not having DX11 compatible hardware. I wiped the drivers and reinstalled, restarted the system and tried again. I got the same error. I went back to the EVGA Precision software and clocked the GPU down to 850 MHz and gave it another go. This time the benchmark completed all the way through, all five times.
EVGA Precision Overclocking Utility (v2.0.0)
So I settled at 850 MHz. That's 150 MHz faster than the 700 MHz that it came at stock, an increase of over 21%. I kept the memory at 900 MHz. I ran through most of the benchmarks to find out how much that 150 MHz helped out. Here are the results:
Excluding the Unigine Heaven DX11, the average performance increase was 21%, right in line with the 21% increase in clock speed. The Unigine benchmark posted a 12% increase in performance. If you recall from the previous article, the settings I used in the benchmarks weren't the highest settings available, but they were still very high for the ENGT430, as you can see from the original FPS results. Overclocked, the ENGT430 performs much better, but the settings would still need to be lowered to make these games playable.
A 21% increase in clock speed, matched by a 21% increase in performance is an amazing achievement for the ENGT430. On top of that, there wasn't any increase in temperature output at all. I'll admit that I was under-impressed by the 64 degree high temperature of the ENGT430, but maintaining just 64 degrees after a 21% increase in clock speed is a lot better.